Release Date: Mar 24, 2009
Record label: Saddle Creek
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Like an update on Cocteau Twins or Mazzy Star, for their self-titled album O+S paint textural layers of sound beneath breathy vocals and freshen them up with big tight punchy beats. As far as the backing tracks go, many of these sound layers were created from field recordings originally sampled by vocalist Orenda Fink (the "O" of O+S) while traveling around the world. After Fink recruited her longtime friend Scalpelist (the "S"), the two started forming the foundation of O+S by transforming the soundbites of wind chimes, street noises, and children's chatter into loops.
O+S is a band comprised of Orenda Fink of Azure Ray and Scalpelist (a. k. a.
Whatever prejudices you've built up about Saddle Creek, chances are they're outdated. The label's current overhauled lineup stumps a lot of casual fans, its stylistic (and geographic) makeup undergoing a marked change since Conor Oberst started devoting more time to his Team Love imprint. Singer-songwriter Orenda Fink, with Azure Ray and her left-of-center solo pursuits, has always had one foot in Bright Eyes/Rilo Kiley-style signature Creek folk while the other wades into murkier waters.
Pairing Azure Ray's Orenda Fink with Remy Zero's Scalpelist (Cedric Lemoyne), O+S' debut intertwines their styles into shoegaze folk. Scalpelist's looped beats propel the songs with trip-hop force, anchored by Fink's monochromatic melancholy. Openers "New Life" and "Permanent Scar" achieve the most compelling balance, the latter unloading scuzzed electric rhythms and layered samples into a mesmerizing patchwork, while the field recordings backgrounded in "We Do What We Want To" accentuate the disembodied feel of unfolding soundscapes.